Thursday, December 23, 2010

Season’s Greetings



                                                                  “Azure Window”, Dwerja Bay, Gozo Island, Malta

Another eventful year draws to a close and we are considering what highlights to share with our friends and family. As always we have been traveling – two trips to Winnipeg to visit Wilf’s Mom as well as the usual Stoneman get together in Bigfork, Montana during the summer. This was the centennial year for the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Manitoba, which provided Wilf with a chance to meet up with former professors and fellow students for some reminiscing. They also had a chance to marvel at all the attractive young women in the current program – some things have changed since way back when!

This fall we made a return trip to Europe, meeting up with our friends Nan and Greg in Germany, then moving on to Malta. We spent a week exploring Malta and the neighbouring island of Gozo, before flying to Sicily. A few more days with Nan and Greg, after which we continued our explorations on our own. This meant the added adventure of driving, which was, indeed, an adventure. Fortunately we had our GPS with us, otherwise we might still be wandering the back roads of Sicily. Sharon had an opportunity to unleash her inner Italian and learned to be more aggressive in her driving.

Back here in staid slow Victoria she has had some unlearning to do. Sicily was quite different from the other parts of Italy that we have visited. We enjoyed the food, the wine, the sights – it was great. We finished off with a few days in Milan for a Northern Italian perspective.

We continue to be well – Wilf flyfishes and gardens. He also completed renovations to our second bathroom this summer. Sharon is still quilting and knitting and attended several retreats and seminars. We’ve been on the West Coast now for 10 years – a fact that rather astonishes us – how the time flies.

We both wish you all much happiness in the coming year.

Friday, December 17, 2010


So I don’t do the texting thing. Mostly because I don’t have anyone to send texts to. The people I know (and this includes me) either don’t have their phone with them, or don’t have it turned on. The only texts we get are from our phone service providers and the response is usually ‘Why is my phone making that funny noise?’

That said, this summer I got an IPod Touch (oh, IPod how do I love thee? Let me count the ways….), which has been my introduction to the world of autocorrect. I have learned to double check before hitting send or save because of that feature. In the speedy give and take of texting, however, people don’t always check before sending.

The phenomenon of autocorrect errors is beginning to creep into popular culture, too. We were watching an episode of Sherlock  and he received a text message – the sender called him a cork stuffer. He read that out – they all thought about it, then nodded and agreed ‘Autocorrect’.

If that is an example of autocorrect in Britain I must say that the British software seems to differ from the American. How do I know this? Today I stumbled across, a site that captures hilarious examples of autocorrect gone horribly, hilariously wrong.  It seems that given the option autocorrect will substitute the most profane, ridiculous or embarrassing words possible. I don’t know what’s funnier – the horrified sender or the bemused recipients of the message.

And you know how they it is difficult to express tone in electronic communications? I’d say that frustration comes through loud and clear in the text world…..

Sunday, November 14, 2010

That was fast…

Its been three weeks since we got home – how’d that happen? I’m sitting here, looking at pictures, reading about Picasa web albums. And when I look at our pictures, especially those from Malta it is hard to believe that it was so hot there. Back here in the northern rain forest it is a festival of damp drippy foggy grey. Not so much with the rain. But wet, nontheless. In fact, look what I saw growing out of the gravel at the top of our driveway:


Nope – not a pinecone. A mushroom of some sort, about 4” tall. And don’t even get me started on the moss situation around here.

So – a quiet Sunday afternoon with a hot drink and a several hundred photos. Let’s see what I have to say about them.

Before and After



It appears that Grappa is an acquired taste.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Malta is cool!

Well, actually its pretty neat. But not cool – it is hot! Whew! I can’t imagine being there in the summer. But – lots to see. We stayed in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk.

Backing up a bit, Wilf and I flew from Victoria to Frankfurt, where we met up with our friends Nan and Greg. From there we flew to Malta. Greg had arranged an apartment rental for us – we had a great place right on the main street into town, short walk down and around the corner to the port.


All along the harbour are fish restaurants. We were impressed by the wide marble esplanade along the shore until we saw it in action on Monday morning – not for the convenience of the tourists strolling by,  it is actually a place for the fishermen to lay out their nets for inspection and repair.

We arrived on a Saturday, and clearly Saturday night is the night to be in town. Everyone was all dressed up for a night out – we were lucky to get a table. Having a table on the walkway meant we had front row seats for the parade of legs and cleavage that went by – wow! I don’t have any pictures from Saturday night – you’ll have to make do with Sunday morning, instead!


Being based in Marsaxlokk was convenient – close to the airport and we could take the bus to Valletta. For further excursions we rented a car. As Malta was under British control for a long time they drive on the left of the road – fortunately for us Greg is Australian and took control of the driving. Good thing – it was rather a combination of crazy Italian driving, on the wrong side of the road with lots and lots of roundabouts thrown in. Greg remained calm, cool and collected throughout, leaving the rest of us to cringe at the antics of the drivers around us.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And best layed plans, yadda yadda

First up - we're having a great time. Malta was hot and fun and interesting. Sicily has been hot until the rain blew in last night. Tonight we are in Piazza Armerina, swathed in fog and light rain. Still warmish, though.

We dropped Nan and Greg at the Catania airport noonish and switched cars. The cars deserve an entire post of their own (with pictures), but let it suffice to say that we went from the lap of luxury this morning to what may be classified as a clown car this afternoon! It got the job done and we are here.

We never did find the internet cafe in our town in Malta, and didn't see one in Syracusa, either. My netbook refuses to turn on, so I may be hooped even if we find wi-fi. Tonight's bed and breakfast has a computer we can use - although the Italian keyboard is a challenge! (I keep losing the @ symbol!) But I'll keep trying - pictures may have to wait.

It is only 5:30 pm, which is insanely early to consider dinner in these parts. But I'm hungry! I feel like we've driven across half of Sicily today and I'm ready. Besides, we want to try pasta alla Norma, so out into the fog we go!

Until later!!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This is what happens….

When Someone has a birthday that coincides with International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It begins with cards and the singing of Happy Birthday. Then – out come the pirate hats while during the post brunch visit to the frog prince at The Chalet in Deep Cove:wilf birthday chalet

As the day progresses there are the so necessary pirate jokes, including:

What’s a pirate’s favorite inert gas? Arrrgon!

What’s a pirate’s favorite kind of sock? Arrrrgyle!

What’s a pirate’s favorite kind of cheese? Havarrrrti!

Soon enough comes cake:

wal birthday cake

And just in time, too, ‘cause this rascally fellow wanted some cake!

wal birthday pirate

Happy birthday, sweetie! And many thanks to Martine for making it fun!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Horses – check. Pipers – check. We have a parade!

Bigfork, Montana is such a cute little town. We’ve been coming here since about 1968. Probably some 300 people lived here then. Geography has not allowed for much expansion of the original town, which has meant that it retains its small town character. The town is a tourist destination, and the tiny little main street has many interesting shops and restaurants to tempt visitors. Lots more people live in Bigfork and the Bigfork area now, but its still a sleepy town in the winter and it bustles all summer long.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a small town Fourth of July parade this is the place to be. Having a parade here does pose some challenges, though.Grand Drive comes down the hill from the highway and along the bay. It meets Electric Avenue, requiring a right hand turn. Electric Avenue goes along for a bit before it meets a small one way bridge that carries traffic over the river and back up to the highway. The one way bridge can’t handle heavy traffic. This set up makes for two challenges – negotiating the right hand turn at Electric Avenue and the pile up by the bridge as the heavy trucks wait for the parade to end so they can turn around and come back – sort of a two for the price of one parade!

This year was warm but overcast so we neither baked in the sun nor shivered while clutching coffee cups. It was a big cheerful crowd, decked out in red, white and blue.


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Every year the newest acquisition of the fire department is featured prominently in the festivities. We noted that the new ladder truck. with ‘105 foot ladder’ written right on the side, is passing probably the only building in town taller than two stories – two stories and a roof garden. But if someone builds something tall – they’re ready!

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The young ladies from Bigfork High strut their stuff.

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As promised – pipers!

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And horses! Last year the local tea party gang had an entry in the parade. And they managed to spell Independence wrong. And their float was being pulled by a Japanese made truck. There was an interesting message in all that, but we stayed out of it.

And then there’s Superman!


He was back this year, and he brought his friends:

wonder woman


(note the web spinner action!)

Another year, another parade, another fun celebration!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are there bees in the garage?

Nope – just a helicopter….


A teeny, tiny helicopter that sounds like a swarm of bees….

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And yes, there are two airplanes hanging from the ceiling. And a set of golf clubs on standby.

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On rainy, windy days the garage becomes a flying field – Mike, Bill and Dad take turns flying the helicopter. There are an assortment of other craft waiting for the weather to turn – airplanes, floatplanes, other helicopters – all at the ready.

I was looking around the living room the other day and started an inventory of the electronic toys. There are six of us here and we have amongst us:

2 laptops

3 netbooks

2 Internet tablets

5 regular cell phones

1 Blackberry

2 IPod Touch

1 IPod

1 IPod Nano

1 IPod Shuffle

2 mp3 players

6 digital cameras

1 handheld GPS/Nav system

and, a partridge in a pear tree….

Needless to say there is a wireless network in the house – with two routers for maximum coverage. And then there are all the headsets/headphones, chargers and connection cords and cards and so on that accompany all this.

As part of the Stoneman air fleet there also various airplane parts or parts of control systems about. And my knitting projects. And then there’s the books! Every body arrived with books to read and to swap.

Any wonder we fall into bed exhausted every night?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Giganteum update!

Well, we are here and it is there, but fret not, there is an update to the subject of my last posting. As we figured, the giant Himalayan lily bloomed after we left for our Montana visit. To our great relief our friends Kristin and Ken agreed to check up on the lily, and take pictures. And looky here!



I kind of wonder where they were standing to get these close ups, but Wow – aren’t those beautiful flowers?



Kristin also included the following to re-assure us that our white tailed friends haven’t been missing us one bit:


Yep – still wading right in….

Friday, June 18, 2010

Waiting. Watching. Wondering.

Plant lust. What can I say. One of the people who lives in this house has a bad case. Never met a plant he didn’t like, or at least want to like. All manner of things follow him home. After years in Calgary, where gardening can be a heartbreaking proposition things are so different here. In fact, out here in the country gardening is less a genteel pursuit and more a case of constant fending off.

However. Two years ago Wilf brought home a plant that was suggested for areas of light shade. He planted it, lost the tag with its name and carried on. Year one – a flurry of large heart shaped leaves, but nothing more and it died back. Year two – repeat performance. So – nothing very exciting, but something green to look at, we thought. And then…… this year in March the plant took a deep breath, heaved up and started to grow. Like Jack and the beanstalk, it started to grow!

March 31, 2010 – nothing is visible behind a flurry of daffodils:

Mar 31 2010 garden

May 5, 2010 – it grew 18” while we were in Winnipeg:


Looking at the top (for the last time):


Around about this time we were at the Farmer’s Market, and saw a pot full of familiar leaves. ‘That’s it!”, we cried. The tag said Cardiocrinum giganteum, and a consult with Mr. Google revealed the common name of Himalayan Lily. Turns out after the seed is planted it sort of moseys along for four years, at which stage it gets a bit bigger and starts with the big leaves. For two years. And in year seven up shoots a stalk, heading for a floral display. After which it will die back, leaving us with daughter bulbs and seeds for the next go round.

May 16, 2010

May 16 2010 lily

June 5, 2010

Jun 05 2010 lily

June 18, 2010

Jun 18 2010 lily

We’re finally getting some sun, and you can see that the cluster of buds has opened and the flowers are spreading out. I don’t think it’ll be blooming by the time we head south, but I’ve got a friend lined up to take pictures.

I tell you, plants with a last name of giganteum really do provide much entertainment!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Geophysical – a quilt show

I’ve had a couple of questions, mainly through Facebook, if I’m still quilting. And yes, lack of pictorial evidence withstanding, I am still quilting.

The Canadian Quilters Association has a big convention/quilt show/extravaganza every other year. It moves about the country – the 2010 show was in Calgary last month. As well as the National Juried Show there are various invitational shows as part of the event.

I belong to The Fibre Art Network , a group of Western Canadian based fibre artists. We applied to the Canadian Quilters Association to have a show as part of  the Calgary event. Of course there needs to be a theme or organizing principle behind such a proposal, and there was much discussion about what would be appropriate. One day the email arrived with the parameters for the show. In my distracted state I read ‘Get Physical’, and immediately began thinking about Olivia Newton-John and head bands and leg warmers and….. I managed to get my attention back and read further:

GeoPhysical’, pays tribute to geology, and the scenic and economic riches it provides to western Canada. FAN members are challenged to interpret, in cloth and thread, “the earth and the forces that shape it” without reference to subjects man-made or currently living.

Well. That, of course, made much more sense.

I’ve been working in a series for some time now, looking at lines, working within a restricted range of fabrics and colours. Thinking about this project I was thinking about underground structures, and layers and fractures. I looked at stratigraphic depictions of what’s under the ground in areas of Alberta, and while I love the lines and colours of those depictions (i.e. this) I decided that I didn’t want to go the representational route, choosing instead to continue with the lines that have held my interest. I did feel the need to expand a bit colour wise, so those of you who have been used to seeing me work through all the variations of gray/gray violet/black and more gray…..

stoneman sharon drop fault

Drop Fault machine pieced, hand stitched and quilted. 18”x26” 2010

stoneman sharon drop fault detail

Drop Fault detail

I wasn’t able to get to Calgary to see the show, but both the big show and the Geophysical show were apparently a big success. Part of the mandate of The Fibre Art Network is to document group shows, so I’m happy to report that you can view all the pieces in the exhibition over here: Geophysical.

I’d also like to thank Colleen Peake and Gay Walker, the Calgary FAN members who co-ordinated the show. They managed all the complicated communications and arrangements to pull the show together – all of our hard work creating art would have come to naught without them. And thanks also to Kristin Miller who administrates the FAN website and makes our work look so good.

Okay – all this writing, thinking and looking at quilts makes me want to get to work!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Love a Parade

Oh yes, I do. And today was Victoria Day here in Victoria, so to the parade we went. Along with 65,000 other people, it is said.

Parade attendance involves strategy – where to park? Where to sit? Fortunately this town doesn’t get up very early and we were able to whistle on down to the View Street parkade, get settled on Douglas Street and get the all important breakfast in hand well before the parade showed up.

May 24 2010 002

Growing up in Calgary, where attendance at the Stampede Parade is practically mandatory I have certain expectations regarding parades. There should be horses. And pipers. And lots of audience participation. Things are different here. Light on horses, heavy on pipers, and needing serious encouragement for the audience participation part. Wilf has gotten used to me hollering and clapping and whoohooing and no longer pretends that he doesn’t know me.

As I mentioned, the parade is woefully light on horses. There were only three. But three beauties they were:

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They were part of the Victoria Fire Department Historical Society  display.

Of course, being lacking in the horse department meant that we were sadly deficient in the cowboy department, too.

But pipers and pipe bands – there were lots. Between the military and the American High School bands were were well taken care of:

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We had saucy sailor girls:

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and the kids from Reynolds High, on of our local schoolsMay 24 2010 023

Once the parade was over we had a little lunch in the sun on Government Street, enjoyed some gelato while watching the people go by and went to see the newest sculpture in town – topiary Orcas!

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Tourists in our own town!

Monday, May 3, 2010

2010 Times-Colonist 10k

Last year I got it into my head to enter the Times-Colonist 10k road race, as a walker. I signed up for a event preparation clinic through our local recreation centre, did the training and then did the race. It was great fun – I finished in 1hr35min. It was a great experience all around. In the Fall I entered the Royal Victoria Half Marathon as a walker, which was also great.

At some point along the way Wilf said the fatal words ‘If you can do it, so can I’. Uh-huh. And soon enough we were both signed up for the 2010 race and training clinics. And again, all went well. Some sort of miracle came to pass and for 14 Sunday mornings in a row we went for our walk with the clinic participants – and it didn’t rain! A few times it started as soon as we finished our cool down stretches, and one morning we left the house in the pouring rain, but it stopped by the time we got to Greenglade school. Race day was cool, lightly overcast – no  rain!

And here we are:

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With over 13,000 registered participants this is the second largest 10k in Canada  - second only to the Vancouver Sun Run (with 60,000 participants). In the above pictures we were just moving into position for the walker’s start. The runners had already gone and we moving from our corral to the start line itself.

We tried to catch a picture along the way on Dallas Road – what you can’t really see is the line of people in blue shirts stretching off as far as we could see.

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And then, after 1hr38min:


I’m clutching my chocolate milk and oranges – and amazingly enough we found Mom and Dad in the post race melee!

Other pictures are over here and here.

So – 2011 anyone?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I can see for miles and miles and miles and…..

Last month we were in Winnipeg. Usually our concern is whether or not we’ll run into winter and freeze to death. Living in lotus land means we’ve totally lost our acclimatization for winter. Turned out not to be a problem this time around. In fact, it was warmer in Winnipeg than it was in Victoria. In fact, it was 23 degrees. I mean – really? That’s a really nice summer day out here.

The good folks of Winnipeg were cavorting in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. And, while I applaud their desire to enjoy the warm weather, there’s one thing. There wasn’t a speck of green. Not a blade of grass. Not a bud open on a tree. They had vaulted straight from winter to summer temps without pausing for spring. The roads hadn’t even been swept of the dust and gravel.

From the 8th floor, Portage and Sherbrook, looking south:

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Looking southwest:

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If it weren’t for those pesky Rocky Mountains we might have been able to see all the way back to Vancouver Island.

We had a great visit with Wilf’s Mom, got her taxes sorted, ate at Stella's and then headed back to the green and flowery West Coast.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So – Where Have I Been At?

Well, mostly just around, in winter hibernation. Unusually for Wilf and I we stayed put this winter. And we picked a good one – mild temperatures, little rain – no snow! In fact spring came very early this year – the cherry trees were out in February, and we had our first daffodil blooms right at the end of the month. The early rhodos are out now and the garden looks good – lots to look at already.

We did take a quick trip to Seattle at the beginning of February – thought we’d get over and back before all the Olympic hoohah started. We shopped and ate and walked and had a nice few days. The bus tunnel that services downtown Seattle is back in service, which makes for some speedy moving about.

One discovery we made is that The Elliott Bay Book Company is moving. Okay, we may have been the last people to find out, but I’m glad we didn’t just show up there one day and find them gone. The actual move begins tomorrow –they’re promising a great location in another building with squeaky fir floors – and parking – so there’s that!

Well, now that spring has sprung and hibernation is over I’ll aim to update more frequently. And I’ll leave you with a picture that we took on our Seattle trip:

big newfs

Yep those are four full grown Newfoundland dogs in the back of a pickup. We stopped for coffee at Sehome Village, Bellingham, as we usually do. Sitting in my chair by the window I had the sense of being watched. When I turned around I was eye to eye with a very large black dog. Being a Newf he had a ‘Wassup? Wanna play?’ look about him. His owner went out and tried to send him back to the truck, but no way, he wanted to be where the action was. It wasn’t until owner guy walked the dog back to the pickup and put him in the cab that we realized that there were four more in the back of the truck! That led to quite a buzz around the coffee shop - ‘Imagine the food for those guys! Food, shmood – imagine the poop situation!’ I wasn’t the only one out in the parking lot taking pictures of these beauties. (And yes, since we were in Bellingham in the winter it was drizzling, so those were five huge wet dogs….)